Hospitals hire actors to fake Ebola symptoms
- To test staff readiness for a possible Ebola patient, public hospitals in New York City have hired actors to feign Ebola-like symptoms in the ER. The fake patients appear only mildly ill and staff must diagnose the virus and follow the appropriate protocols.
- "If those patients have symptoms and a travel history we would expect them to be isolated within a few minutes in that emergency room," said the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation's chief medical office Dr. Ross Wilson. "Then we would call the Department of Health and complete a further work-up with the patient being isolated."
- The hospital is also preparing its facilities to handle a patient with the virus. Technicians have put together a lab that would exclusively process Ebola blood tests in order to prevent contamination and an isolation ward has been prepared in the event of a positive diagnosis.
Dive Insight:In light of the patient recently released undiagnosed in Dallas, hospitals across the country are training staff not only on how to identify the virus, but also what to do in the event of a diagnosis (like how to safely put on and remove protective gear). AMR, one of the nation's largest ambulance companies, has made travel history questions the norm, as well as providing guidelines on how to wrap the interior of a rig in plastic sheeting.
Still, some organizations say not enough is being done. A recent survey by National Nurses United found that many nurses don't feel they have been adequately trained to handle the virus. Many did not know whether their hospital had protective gear.
"It's not enough to post a link to the Centers for Disease Control on the hospital's website," said union spokesman Charles Idelson.
Health experts say that the domestic risk associated with the crisis in West Africa has shined a limelight on infection control procedures.
"The attention has been, in a sad way, very helpful," said Virginia Commonwealth University epidemiologist Dr. Richard Wenzel, a former president of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.